Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2020

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Carpool (Milford College #1) by Noelle Adams. Read January 31-February 2. 3.5 Stars. 

Jennifer frustrated me sometimes, but I did ship her and Marcus. I liked the small town setting and would’ve liked to have seen even more of that. Overall, this was a cute romance. I got it as a free e-book deal and I’m not sure if it’s still available for free, but definitely worth checking into if you’re a Romance reader.

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Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning. Read February 4-6. 3.5 Stars. 

This had a few issues, but it was cute. I liked Liv’s family and how close she was with her brother. I liked how quickly the football team accepted her, even if it felt a little unrealistic. I thought the romance with Liv and Grey was pretty adorable, too.

There were some things that didn’t really work for me, though. I thought Liv picked up football way too quickly. We’re basically supposed to believe that she’s never played before, but she has a savant level spiral and is a good athlete and it takes her no time at all to be basically their best player. There’s also obviously a big dramatic moment with the romance and I thought it was resolved a little too easily. I read the part where things are supposed to be explained and afterwards I honestly had to re-read it because there was nothing in it that seemed worthy of a resolution to me. There were a few other nitpicky things here and there, but overall this was enjoyable.

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Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan. Read February 14-15. 4 Stars. 

I loved this so much! It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, it ended up being much more. Summer was pretty quirky, which doesn’t always work for me, but I found her likable. I thought most of the characters were pretty likable and the angst and drama were on the low side, which was nice. I absolutely adored Caden and Summer together. It was kind of an enemies-to-friends-to-more story and I was here for it. I loved their friendship and it was kind of a slow burn to them getting together. I appreciated the “fade to black” love scenes. It really focused more on their relationship and feelings and it was so sweet and I just loved it. I’ve been disappointed by a lot of books lately, but this one totally broke me out of my slump.

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Ryan’s Bed by Tijan. Read February 15-16. 3 Stars. 

I had a hard time getting into this one. It was a pretty depressing read, mostly exploring grief. I think there were some very realistic emotions, but I wish that more attention would have been drawn to how Mackenzie’s coping methods were pretty unhealthy. And even though I liked the relationship between her and Ryan, I couldn’t help feeling like Ryan kind of took advantage of her.

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A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Read February 16-18. 3 Stars. 

I thought this was ok, but not anything special. I’m kind of bummed I wasted one of YA BOTM credits on it. I liked Pip and Ravi, though Pip’s behavior did annoy me sometimes. There were several things I rolled my eyes at, but for the most part I thought the evolution of the mystery was pretty well done. It felt a little too long, though, and I lost interest well before the end of the book. And there were a couple scenes that felt completely lifted from tv shows I’ve watched.

*****DNF*****

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My Best Friend’s Royal Wedding by Romy Sommer. DNF-ed at 15%. Just couldn’t get into this one.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel – 2 Stars

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben – 4 Stars

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson – 4 Stars

Review: I Hate You, Fuller James by Kelly Anne Blount

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

I hate you, Fuller James.

I hate your floppy hair and your lopsided grin and those laughing blue eyes that always seem to be laughing at me.

I hate that you’re the most popular guy in school and I’m still the girl who sneezed and spit out her retainer on someone at a middle school dance. It’s just such a cliché.

I hate that I’m being forced to tutor you in English and keep it a secret from everyone. Because otherwise it might put our basketball team’s chances at winning State in jeopardy, and even though I hate you, I love basketball.

I hate that it seems like you’re keeping a secret from me…and that the more time we spend together, the less I feel like I’m on solid ground. Because I’m starting to realize there’s so much more to you than meets the eye. Underneath it all, you’re real.

But what I hate most is that I really don’t hate you at all.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

I Hate You, Fuller James publishes March 2, 2020. 

I was hoping something fun and cute would break me out of my reading rut, but unfortunately I Hate You, Fuller James didn’t end up being that fun or that cute.

The whole tutoring premise started out a little rough for me. The principal of the school straight up blackmails Wren into tutoring the star basketball player. He threatens her with not only multiple days of detention, but suspension because she was caught on video throwing food during a food fight in the cafeteria. The suspension would also mean she would miss out on a prestigious STEM camp. However, if she tutors Fuller, that will be her only punishment. And Fuller’s punishment will be…getting tutored. We later find out that someone else caught on camera throwing food only gets two days of lunch-time detention – which won’t interfere with his spot on the basketball team. So that was all ridiculous enough, but then the basketball coach, who is also Wren’s uncle, asks them both to keep the tutoring a secret. The reasoning is that if the rest of the team finds out their star player may not play in the first game if his grades don’t improve, the team will implode and they’ll never make it to State. That makes perfect sense, right?

So when Fuller is caught by one of his friends going to a the library with Wren for his first tutoring session, he covers for it by making a bet about how he’s hooking up with Wren and will trick her into being his girlfriend and then he’ll dump her. Of course, once he gets to know Wren he realizes she’s the most wonderful girl in all the world and tries to cover his tracks on the bet so she they can be together and she won’t get mad at him.

This book was ridiculous. There were a couple of cute moments here and there, but honestly Fuller just said so many gross things in the beginning of the book that I could never quite like him. Wren was really naive and emotional and very self-involved and I found her a little hard to like, as well. I kept hoping something big would happen later in the story that would make me love it, but it didn’t happen. Even the Big Romantic Gesture, which was based off of two movies I really enjoy, felt very lackluster to me.

Overall, I Hate You, Fuller James left me very underwhelmed. The initial premise with the tutoring didn’t work for me and Fuller’s behavior in the beginning of the book really kept me from rooting for him and Wren later in the story. However, I am definitely not in the target audience age range for this book, so those that are may find this much more enjoyable than I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

Review: Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A political golden boy and the woman of his dreams take the risk of their lives in a sexy romantic comedy of strange bedfellows and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Fresh off being named Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert Davenport, decides it’s time to strategize. Next move: a bid for the governor’s seat. In his way: an incumbent with a flawless reputation. He also has an Achilles’ heel: an estranged wild-child daughter with a past so scandalous it could be Robert’s ticket to victory. And a charm so irresistible it could be Robert’s downfall.

Rebellion is a thing of the past for Adeline Blake. As New York’s premier event planner, she’s all about reform and respectability. Then she’s approached by Robert to organize the party of the season. Curious, considering he’s her father’s most formidable opponent. And alarming, too. Because Addie can’t help but fall for the righteously popular candidate with the movie-star smile.

Now it’s Robert’s choice. Does he pursue a future that holds his legacy? Or the woman who holds his heart?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

Yours in Scandal will be available March 10, 2020.

I have been in such a reading slump lately and a new Lauren Layne book was just what I needed. I loved this book!

I must admit I was a little wary that the male lead in this book is a politician. I read to escape from politics, so I don’t generally appreciate it in my fiction. However, there actually isn’t a lot of politics involved. Yes, Robert is the Mayor, but he’s honest and doesn’t play dirty and there’s not any mention at all of Red vs. Blue nonsense. I appreciated that Layne was able to have a story about a politician without pushing any political agenda.

I loved the romance between Robert and Addie. Though I thought their relationship happened maybe a little bit fast, I definitely shipped it. They had some great banter and chemistry. There were some very sweet and romantic moments, as well. I was hoping that Layne would continue with omitting the graphic scenes, like she did in the Central Park Pact series, but I’m sure there will be others that are glad they’re included here.

I thought there was a lot of potential for some major angst when some truths are finally revealed and I was bracing myself for it, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised with how it was handled. The couple actually communicated, took responsibility for the things they did, and maturely decided how they wanted to move forward. The whole “I can’t believe you lied to me” thing is such a common plot point in Romances and I loved that Layne took a different route here, as there were plenty of other avenues for the drama to come from. To that point, though, I had a hard time understanding why Addie’s teenage behavior from a decade ago would cause such a problem for Robert’s future campaign. I think the fact that she was the opponent’s daughter would be a bigger issue in the press, but that doesn’t seem to be quite as concerning to the characters.

Overall, I loved Yours in Scandal. Lauren Layne’s books are like comfort food to me. They never fail to lift my mood and make me happy. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Contemporary Romances and longtime Layne readers won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

You Are Not Alone publishes March 3, 2020. 

Since loving this author duo’s debut, The Wife Between Us, their books have become auto-reads for me. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think they’re a bit of a one book wonder for me.

I was bored for about the first 90% of You Are Not Alone. There was some mild intrigue with Cassandra and Jane, the Moore sisters, and figuring out what exactly they’re up to, but it didn’t really take long to figure things out. I kept hoping there was a lot more to them and their group of friends, but there wasn’t. While I did like reading the multiple perspectives, getting the others just made Shay’s perspective more frustrating. I just wanted to yell at her to stop being so stupid all the time, which isn’t necessarily fair since I was privy to more information than she was. Still, though, for how intelligent she was supposed to be, I felt like it took her way too long to become suspicious.

I found the writing between the two authors to be seamless, as always. They have very compatible writing styles and I do find that impressive. I was just underwhelmed with the story. I thought much of it was very obvious and thought things drug out for too long. There was one surprise towards the end that I hadn’t guessed, but it wasn’t exactly a game changing twist like I have come to expect.

Overall, You Are Not Alone, just wasn’t for me. While there was initially some intrigue, I felt like things become obvious way too early in the story and I kept waiting for things to get really crazy, but they never did. I found myself just trying to get through the story, rather than enjoying it. While I still think these authors are talented, this story missed the mark for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Packed with the electrifying pacing and pulse-pounding suspense of Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner, a thrilling debut about a mother desperate to find the connections between her missing husband and a deadly stalker who knows too much about her own dark family history.

Driving home one rainy night, Cassie Larkin sees a man and woman fighting on the side of the road. After calling 911, the veterinarian makes a split-second decision that will throw her sedate suburban life into chaos. Against all reason and advice, she gets out of her minivan and chases after the violent man, trying to help his victim. When Cassie physically tries to stop him, he suddenly turns on her and spits out an ominous threat: “Let her die, and I’ll let you live.”

A veterinarian trained to heal, Cassie can’t let the woman die. But while she’s examining the unconscious victim, the attacker steals her car. Now he has her name. Her address. And he knows about her children. Though they warn her to be careful, the police assure her that the perpetrator—a criminal named Carver Sweet—won’t get near her. Cassie isn’t so sure.

The next day—Halloween—her husband disappears while trick-or-treating with their six-year-old daughter. Are these disturbing events a coincidence or the beginning of a horrifying nightmare? Her husband has been growing distant—is it possible he’s become involved with another woman? Is Cassie’s confrontation with the road-side attacker connected to her husband’s disappearance? With all these questions swirling in her mind Cassie can trust no one, maybe not even herself. The only thing she knows for sure is that she can’t sit back while the people she loves are in danger.

As she desperately searches for answers, Cassie discovers that nothing is as random as it seems, and that she is more than willing to fight—to go the most terrifying extremes—to save her family and her marriage.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

No Bad Deed will be available February 18, 2020. 

This is a hard one to review without giving too much away, so I’m going to keep it short. I did like that it was pretty fast paced and even when the plot seemed to drag a bit, the pace kept me reading. Small reveals came quickly and frequently and that also helped move the story along. That’s kind of the end of the good things I can say about No Bad Deed, though. Cassie was a confusing character. Nothing she did really made that much sense to me. One of my biggest pet peeves in this type of book is when the main character decides to investigate themselves and everything they do just makes them look guilty. There was a lot of that in this story and I found it frustrating. I also think the actual development of the mystery was kind of ridiculous. By the time we get to the reveal of who is behind everything and why, the only reaction I had was a hard eye roll. It was a promising premise, but I found the ending really underwhelming.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars